Mardi Gras Lets the Good Times Roll! 

By Clinton J. Holloway


Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday; it designates the day before Ash Wednesday, the traditional start of the season of Lent in the Christian calendar. Lasting approximately six weeks, Lent leads up to Easter and allows Christians the opportunity to prepare for Holy Week, during which they remember the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. Often that preparation means giving up something or denying oneself of something, often a guilty pleasure. 


Mardi Gras, or Fat Tuesday, is a day of celebration, a party, prior to Lent and is sometimes given over to excess just before the time of self-sacrifice. Also known Pancake Day, some traditions call for the serving of pancakes on Mardi Gras. It’s okay to eat pancakes in excess on this day because, traditionally, the idea is to get rid of all of the cupboard’s tempting goodies before the season of restraint.


Celebrated in the U.S. for 300 years, Mardi Gras parties are hosted around the globe, traditionally in nations where Roman Catholicism is the dominant religion. Carnival in Brazil is the largest observance in the world, drawing two million people to Rio de Janeiro annually. In the United States, New Orleans, founded by the French, is synonymous with Mardi Gras, even though the holiday is also observed in other parts of the country (particularly those with ethnic French populations).


Purple, green and gold are the traditional colors of Mardi Gras; these are symbolic of justice, faith and power. At both GasLamp Antique malls, one may find a variety of decorations for a Mardi Gras party. For a masked ball, a traditional feathered mask in purple, green and gold such as the one found in Booth B-210 for $4.95, is perfect (photo, above right). Also pictured here is a mask with harlequins in the same color scheme for $5.95 (small) and for $6.95 (large).


Those hosting a Mardi Gras fete will want to add these large wall decorations of comedy and tragedy found at Gas Lamp Too in Booth T-359C for $10 (photo, left).


Beads, which are traditionally thrown from elaborate and dazzling parade floats, are probably the one thing most associated with Mardi Gras. “Doubloons,” or souvenir coins, are tossed into the crowds along with small toys. Originally the nineteenth beads were Czech glass, but later cheaper plastic versions were substituted. Endless Attic, located in Gas Lamp Too, suggests a decorative idea for showing off an accumulation of beads: Put them in a clear apothecary jar (photo, right; Booth T-7035 for $13).


As with any celebration, food and drink are a big part of the Mardi Gras celebration. Consult the premier New Orleans chef himself, Emeril Lagasse, on the best dishes to serve at your Fat Tuesday soiree. One of his Louisiana cuisine cookbooks can be found at Boot B-219 for $7.95 (photo, left).


The slogan of Mardi Gras, “Let the Good Times Roll,” can be your slogan, too, when you shop at GasLamp and GasLamp Too for all of your Mardi Gras themed décor and party favors!             


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